Hello and Happy Holidays! It definitely feels weird typing out my first new blog post since (gulp) June. I have no excuses except to casually mention that I got the job offer of a lifetime at the company of my dreams. After the initial wallop of shock and awe, Andrew and I bravely agreed to take the plunge. So we moved 2,800 miles away from Washington, DC—the place we called home for a decade—to Portland, Oregon. It’s either a crazy leap of faith or our grand, mid-life adventure; it’s probably a bit of both. When threads of doubt start creeping into my head about our major transition to the West Coast, this quote gives me some comfort. To paraphrase: Just Do It. Ha!
Right now, are you desperately wondering, “Is Portland really as rainy as they say?” The answer is the most deafeningly emphatic “YES!” In fact, since our arrival four weeks ago, Portland has had historic rainfall, flooding, landslides, a windstorm, and snow while DC was enjoying record-setting warm temperatures. When I’m not crying into my water-resistant hoodie and fighting twitchy fingers from umbrella withdrawal, I convince myself the weather is only Mother Nature testing my mettle: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
OK, enough of the meteorological voodoo! Instead of discussing Portland’s one-hundred words for “rain,” I know you’d rather see photos of what we’ve been doing for the past three months:
Let’s start at the very beginning of our journey to Portland. Here’s a shot of Prairie, Indiana. (They don’t call it “flyover country” for nuthin.’ I was en route to Oregon for the big job interview.) The first thing that crossed my mind was, “Gee, this pattern looks a lot like rectilinear camo…” (Isn’t that what you immediately thought of too??)
To prove my point, here’s a detail of my J.Crew camo t-shirt.
Another aerial view from the plane: a manicured golf course in Itasca, Illinois.
And I believe this is Mount Hood. (See? We’re getting closer.)
A good omen: while moving out of our townhouse in Virginia, I found all these random quarters. How cool that Mount Hood turned up!
The end of October was a crazy stretch. Luckily, our house sold in less than three days. What helped? De-cluttering, cleaning, and taking kick-ass photographs.
In mid-November, we bought a house in Oregon. It will be ready in Spring 2016. Andrew and I are already reciting this giddy chant: “No shared walls!”
Ah yes, Portlanders and their food. Seems like everyone is a passionate foodie with a discerning palate. One morning during our house-hunting trip, we went to brunch at Tasty n Alder. Their lemon ricotta pancakes with apple butter and bim bop bacon & eggs will change your life. I’m a convert.
I’ve determined that every photo of a hipster foodie establishment warrants the Inkwell filter. This is Beast, an intimate restaurant offering communal tables, a six-course menu, and mandatory bearded waiters.
This is Kukai Ramen & Izakaya. Even though it’s located far from Portland’s hipster neighborhoods, it’s more importantly a stone’s throw from our corporate apartment. It deserves the prestigious black-and-white filter because we’ve eaten here many times and their ramen is damn good.
Continuing our food theme, this is one of the famous food carts on SW Alder Street. (Alas, it was closed when I stopped by so my Korean-Mexican craving will have to wait.)
Motivation to hit the gym: their Portland Cream doughnut was as big as a football! (Yeah, yeah, Blue Star Donuts is on our list too.)
Around town: rich fall colors in the vibrant Pearl District. An Uber driver told me, “The rain keeps everything green and clean.” Word.
Street mural: trances with wolves.
Back to nature: peaceful skies at twilight over Bethany, Oregon, one of several areas we visited for house-hunting.
I kid you not that it rained for seventeen straight days in December. (I barely kept my sanity, people.) This peek-a-blue moment was a rare respite.
Because we Portlanders need more than food and nature to nourish our vitamin-D-deficient souls, we recently checked out the Portland Art Museum for a culture fix. What I liked most was being exposed to contemporary artists I had never heard of before. Here’s a stunning 3-D painting/sculpture called “Translation #2” by Portland artist Dirk Staschke. (I bet he’s vegan.)
The starkly powerful “To Be Pueblo II” by artist Rose B. Simpson.
A visual feast: the “Paradise” exhibition by the artist collective known as Fallen Fruit. It explores “how Oregon [in the 1850s] was promoted as a vision of ‘paradise,’ ripe with possibility and a symbol of Westward Expansion and Manifest Destiny.” The artists use “fruit to examine concepts of place, history,…and public space.”
The custom-designed, fruit-themed wallpaper for the installation.
What was even more vivid than that modern wallpaper? This gorgeous 19th-century tile from Iran!
Turning to sports, I haven’t followed the Blazers since the days of Clyde Drexler and Rasheed Wallace. Still, it was exciting to catch a game at the Moda Center.
In case you missed it, Oregon legalized recreational marijuana this year. You can light up at home, grow up to four plants, and concoct edibles. Woohoo! (But soon, the state will start charging a double-digit sales tax.) To celebrate cannabis, here’s the perfect holiday card.
Since our temporary rental didn’t inspire us to deck our halls and put up a Christmas tree, this is my version of red and green lights hanging on a bough.
In addition to a hundred different words for “rain,” I assume Oregonians have at least as many to describe “moss” and “lichen.” My local vocabulary is still limited so here’s an example of fluffy, layered moss tinged with yellow.
And here’s some lichen that’s scaly, lacy, and seafoam green.
What’s amazing is how the varied textures and colors make the trees look eerie and enchanted.
Parting shot: I took this photo on the grounds of Jenkins Estate, a public park near our new home in Beaverton. Heading into 2016, my goal is to see the forest for the trees. Always.
P.S. Can’t get enough of Portland? This booklet was a quick and funny read. Overwhelmed about where to eat? Here’s 38 Essential Portland Restaurants. Curious about legalized pot? Here’s the cheat sheet. And last but not least, Andrew and I have grand visions of working our way through this hard-core list of 50 Things Every Portlander Must Do. Needless to say, as solid “Newcomers,” we have lots of ground to cover.